Our crowded bus rolled across the undulating plains north of Belgrade, Serbia, on its way to Subotica. We were looking forward to the city’s Art Nouveau architecture, but unlike us, most of the other passengers onboard could expect nothing more than an uncertain future and the dream of a better and safer life in Europe.
The bus was packed and the majority of passengers were refugees. Subotica is only a few miles south of the Hungarian border, and after clearing the checkpoint, the northbound refugees would be in the EU. Most of the road-weary riders took advantage of the warm, comfortable bus to sleep, but the two rows across the aisle from us were wide awake.
A happy Serbian grandmother and granddaughter chatted away, while sharing pizza and a soft drink. Behind them, an exhausted-looking Muslim mom tried her best to comfort her fussy toddler. The seat back separating the four riders was a divide between two worlds that couldn’t be more different.
Quiet words were spoken in the front row, and then a small head peered over the seat, followed by a small hand with a piece of pizza held out to the restless child. With mom’s encouragement, the fidgety little girl became interested in the food, and after a few tiny bites, and a sip of the soft drink, all was well.
Witnessing such an unselfish gesture was incredibly touching for both of us. We snapped this photo with our iPad mini, and while it definitely won’t win any awards for quality, for us, it will always be a special memory.
In these sad days when US presidential candidates use despicable, mean-spirited divisiveness to get votes, these random acts of kindness are the perfect reminder that there’s another way to treat people who may just be slightly different than we are.
“My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.”
James & Terri